HOW PARVATI WON THE HEART OF SHIVAby Harish Johari and Vatsala Sperling. Illustrated by Pieter Weltevrede. Bear Cub Books, December 2004. Hardcover, 32 pages. Ages 6-9. $15.95.
The same team that brought us the tale How Ganesh Got His Elephant Head now regales us with the classic story of Parvati’s steadfast perseverance to win Shiva’s heart. Taken from the ancient Shiva Purana, this contemporary retelling (“… Mena began to feel that marrying a mountain may not be such a bad idea after all.”) makes the legend accessible to young American readers, while retaining its inherent charm and wisdom.
The authors transport the reader to a magical world where curses of irate sages cannot be revoked, mountains take on human form, and prolonged meditative chanting can tame even lions and tigers. In a spellbinding climax, Shiva appears as a street dancer at Himalaya and Mena’s doorstep and asks for their daughter Parvati’s hand in marriage. Weltevrede’s lovely wash paintings enliven the book with characters that leap out of the page. This is an entertaining and uplifting read for children and adults alike.